The traditional brick and mortar model has worked well for credit unions over the years. So long as they continue to deliver superior member experiences, that won’t change anytime soon. However, as more financial institutions offer mobile and online services, digital transformation will quickly grow in importance for your credit union.
Increasingly, the platforms on which credit unions engage and support their members are in the digital realm. While credit unions still offer phenomenal services in their brick and mortar branches, not all have the same level of digital sophistication typical of tech-savvy newer businesses. As younger generations begin their financial journey, poor technological performance will become an issue.
Who is the Competition?
Normally, credit unions have to deal with fairly predictable competition: big banks, community banks, other credit unions, and boxes hidden under mattresses. Credit unions have been able to distinguish themselves well in the field of financial institutions.
Currently however, entire generations feel comfortable bringing their phones or other mobile platforms with them to disrupt perfectly good dates, game nights, dinner parties, and so on. It’s not abnormal to see an entire group of young adults sharing a table at a bar while staring at their phones.
Businesses that have embraced technological growth by developing applications, online support, and mobile functionality have prospered: think Netflix, Amazon, and any pizza company that lets you order delivery with an app (that’s phone application, not appetizer, although personally, I want the option for both).
If Netflix is going to build a media production and streaming empire by beginning with mail-order DVD rentals, then credit union digital transformation can turn a small brick-and-mortar branch into a mobile-friendly powerhouse.
In today’s technological climate, credit unions are competing on two fronts: first, their member financial products services must compete with those offered by other financial institutions. Second, their mobile support and online platforms have to compete against tech giants like Amazon and Netflix for ease of use, user experience, and functionality.
Give Your Members What They Need
It doesn’t matter if a member is out of town, in a business meeting, or just doesn’t want to put on their shoes—credit unions should be prepared to provide the same kind of excellent support and experience online as they do in their physical branches.
Mobile banking, remote loan applications, and online account creation or management are critical for success among today’s financial institutions. If I’m at home and want to check my personal account, I want it to be as fast and easy as it would if I put my pants on, walked into my branch, and spoke with an employee. If I’m trying to pay bills, finance new equipment, or inquire about a property loan for my business, I want to do it even if my meeting ran late or if I’m at a conference in Montserrat.
How to Get Ahead
Remaining within a stone’s throw of the technological edge is key for your credit union. Digital transformation means expanding your products and services to engage with the online- and mobile-savvy users who expect the same sophistication and level of service from your credit union as they do from any other business in the digital age.
For a credit union, digital transformation can take a lot of time and resources. It requires a change in mentality and culture, perhaps a few key partnerships with strong fintechs, and big arms with which to embrace our new robot overlords.